March 16, 2018
A Hollywood scriptwriter couldn’t make this up. One day after new data revealed widespread toxic water contamination near coal ash disposal sites, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt announced a proposal to repeal the very 2015 EPA safeguards that had required this data to be tracked and released in the first place. Clean water is a basic human right that should never be treated as collateral damage on a corporate balance sheet, but that is exactly what is happening.
This proposal clears the way for polluters, and polluter-funded politicians, to write weak standards for groundwater monitoring and coal ash cleanups, and attacks several core health and environmental protections included in the standard that was enacted in 2015. This comes as the first round of water testing, carried out under the new EPA standard, revealed some shocking results. As the New Republic reported:
“At more than 70 sites across the country, toxins like arsenic, mercury, and radium are leaching into groundwater from pond-like storage pits filled with the sludgy leftovers of coal burning. That’s the most alarming takeaway from reports that the coal industry was required to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency this month, part of the first-ever federal regulations of the waste product known as coal ash…So far, the reports have shown coal ash leaking into groundwater at storage sites in Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Georgia, Montana, Washington, Michigan and Florida.”